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Are You Addicted to the Internet?

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Let’s start with a little quiz, shall we?
  • Do you feel absorbed in the Internet?
  • Do you feel satisfied with Internet use if you increase your amount of online time?
  • Have you failed to control, reduce, or quit Internet use repeatedly?
  • Do you feel nervous, temperamental, depressed, or sensitive when trying to reduce or quit Internet use?
  • Do you stay online longer than originally intended?
If you answered “yes” to all these questions, along with just one of the following...
  • Have you taken the risk of losing a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
  • Have you lied to your family members, therapist, or others to hide the truth of your involvement with the Internet?
  • Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving an anxious mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilty, anxiety, or depression)?
...then you, my unfortunate friend, are suffering from Internet Addiction Disorder or IAD. At least according to a new study published in the Public Library of Science’s (PLoS) scientific journal titled “Microstructure Abnormalities in Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder.” Of the 35 Chinese subjects (aged 14 to 21) tested, half of them were found to be addicted, too.

So at least you’ve got a lot of (adolescent) company.  

While previous studies have identified IAD “sufferers” as having structural abnormalities in their brain gray matter through brain scans, this one “shows reductions in volume of certain areas of the brain and in its white matter – the highways of connection between brain cells...” The study also finds that the longer the subject has been addicted to the Internet, the less volume they had in certain regions like those responsible for emotional processing, executive thinking skills and attention and cognitive control.

As far as your brain is concerned, frequenting Google (GOOG), Facebook, and Twitter is equivalent to shooting heroin between your toes with a hypodermic iPhone (AAPL) accessory. The study suggests that the abnormalities found in the prefrontal cortices of Internet junkies mirror those in people with drug and alcohol abuse.

On the bright side, if you had to hear this news, isn’t it a good thing it came on a day when Wikipedia, Reddit, and even ICanHasCheezburger have gone dark in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)? Nothing forces you to go cold turkey like having your dealer skip town.

Too bad an Internet Methadone clinic isn’t an option. Yet.
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